Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Erik Turner of Warrant: Officially Diagnosed As A Rockaholic

Spandex, acid washed jeans, eye liner, earrings, teased hair with lots of aqua net. The 80s were a fun decade us guys! Most critics write off the 80s as a decade of fads and that includes fashion and music. I will admit that a lot of bands that were around during that era just seemed to disappear into oblivion. The true talent did manage to rise to the top and withstood the test of time.

Take Warrant for instance. Warrant burst onto the scene in 1988 with their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich and became an overnight sensation. Five good looking and talented guys gave us such power ballads as “Heaven” and “Sometimes She Cries” and took MTV plus the “hair band” world by storm. They followed that up with an even bigger album Cherry Pie and seemed to be on top of the world.

Oh yeah, then that thing called “grunge” came along and the industry turned their back on the “hair bands” and developed a love affair for Seattle’s latest import. Warrant went through a lot of personnel and label changes, but they kept right on doing what they loved: rocking hard.

Fast forward to 2011 and a rejuvenated and hungry Warrant are back with what may well be their best CD since the days of "Cherry Pie". Rockaholic marks a new chapter in the continuing saga of this band who once rode the top of Billboard’s album and singles charts and the top of MTV’s video countdown. They have a new lead singer, a new record label and a new found focus that can certainly be heard in their music. I recently got the chance to speak with the band’s founder and guitarist Erik Turner about all the crazy happenings in land of Warrant.

Hey Erik, thanks again for taking the time to speak with me. There’s a good buzz being generated by the anticipation of your new CD Rockaholic. Can you tell me a little bit about the recording of it?

Well, it was about two years ago when we demoed our first song which was “Dusty’s Revenge” and it went really well. So, we decided to keep writing and build on that. At that time, Jerry was really spearheading the writing of the material and Robert would fly down to work on vocals. It was a slow, two year process, but it was really seeming to come together. Then, Robert suggested working with (producer) Keith Olsen who had done the second Lynch Mob CD. We had a couple of meetings with Keith and hashed everything out and worked our deal out with him. Then, we had to finish working out our deal with our new label Frontiers. We’re really happy with how the album turned out and the initial reactions that we are hearing. I mean, that’s our baby; you don’t want anyone telling you that your baby is ugly!

Speaking of Robert, how did you guys end up getting him in the band?

Well, Robert actually went out on the road with us on the Dog Eat Dog tour when he was in Lynch Mob. We became friends and through the years we would run into him here and there. Joey ran into him a couple years back at Rocklahoma and things just kind of happened from there. We talked to him about joining the band and we all got together to practice. We were in a small 20x20 rehearsal hall and the first song we did with him was “Down Boys” and we couldn’t hear him. Then, we did “I Saw Red” and of course it is a softer song and we weren’t playing as loud and his voice just rang out and I got goose bumps. I thought, WOW! There was a vibe or some sort of chemical reaction or whatever, but we knew he was the one.

The new CD is really diverse in its format. You have some songs like “Sex Ain’t Love” that has that traditional Warrant sound, “The Last Straw” which flat out rocks hard and “Home” which is like a lost 80s power ballad. It’s diverse, but it all fits together really well. Is there anything on it that really stands out to you? Is there a song or two that you are particularly proud of?

Well, I personally spearheaded the effort to get “Life’s a Song” released as the first single and video. I just thought that it was a really strong song and that it would be an awesome token of appreciation to all those fans that have followed us throughout the years. It’s like looking back through a scrapbook. I think we really captured some magic on this song. It sounds like it could have been an out take from Cherry Pie. It’s like a blast from the past.

You started Warrant back in 1984 and Jerry (Dixon) and you have been on this crazy ride for its entire twenty seven year run. How do you guys manage to keep it going?

I guess have always looked forward. You know, if we stepped in a pile of dog crap then we just wiped our shoes off and ask ourselves what the best solution is. That regardless of whether it is about a song, a band mate or a manager. Yesterday’s gone and we have to do what we have to do today. We’ve been pretty lucky though, it has been mostly good times for us along the way.

What’s your proudest Warrant moment… far?

Wow, there have been so many of them. I mean, although we never got to the superstar level of a Bon Jovi or a Motley Crue, but there have been so many great times and experiences. The funny thing is half of them I don’t even remember!

Warrant is known for some of the biggest power ballads of the 80s and this new album has a few great ones on it too. How do you feel about that term today?

I fell pretty lucky to have them. It’s great because they break up the set and changes the rhythm of where you’re going. A lot of guys may not admit to liking them, but when they are in the backseat of their car with a hot chick, they LOVE power ballads!

Are there any plans on putting out a Warrant box set with unreleased tracks and demos?

I don’t know, maybe somewhere down the road. We have a lot of that stuff and when they labels remastered the early CDs, they stuck a few unreleased songs and demos on there. Right now, we are really focusing on the future and this new album. We are hoping to release a live DVD next year with videos, concert footage and backstage stuff.

So, after all these years and all the changes I have to ask you, have the down boys turned into the settled down boys?

Well, somewhat. I mean we still rock as hard as we use to and we still like to party and have a good time, but we just manage to keep our clothes on now!

Well Erik, this has been a treat for me and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. The new CD Rockaholic is amazing and I look forward to seeing you guys out on the road promoting it.

Hey, I appreciate you wanting to interview us. Thanks for all of your support in promoting the new album too. We hope that all the fans go out and buy the new album and come out and see us.